Day 162 and I am still roving the land like a troubadour. The open road has brought me many things to contemplate, digest and consider. My travel partner Eric and I have agreed to take some time apart to experience the sensation of solo travel. Traveling alone is a feeling I have experienced before and continue to have profound respect for. No man knows his own potential, or the expanse of his own horizons, until he goes it alone.
For the last three days I’ve been lurking around Mendoza. I spend my mornings in the cafes along Sarmiento Avenue. Tight curls of steam rise off my tiny espresso and a frost of crema clings to my mustache. My afternoons are spent wandering beneath the gnarled branches of ancient sycamores and staring at the bruised, overcast sky.
One of my dorm mates here is an introspective Frenchman who lives in Paris. He is traveling alone and “buscando para esposa de Argentina” (looking for an Argentinian wife.) He can tell I’ve been brooding, so he strikes up a conversation. We start out in Spanish but after a few minutes I figure we might fair better in English. I eventually shatter the balance of the conversation by switching languages abruptly. He rolls with the punch and we continue to chat. He mentions he was recently divorced from his Brazilian wife.
“And now you’re looking for an Argentinian wife?” I comment with candor, “Do you not like the women in France?”
He laughs heartily.
I stare out the window and wonder if the skies are overcast where Eric is, in Cordoba. A bluster of wind slaps the fingers of a sycamore branch across the window pane. They strike with a sort of urgency, like the hands of a neighbor’s wife who is running from an ax murderer. I know a storm is coming, but I find it comforting in a strange way.
Then I think back to those last days in Rosario and remember the awkward specter of silence that was always lurking in the background. Mitch knowing he was heading back to a familiar but uncertain life in Phoenix, Eric and I preparing to part ways temporarily and do some soul searching in the comfort of anonymity.
Then my thoughts circle back to Che, and I remember him writing about a “glimpse of two lives running parallel for a while with similar hopes and convergent dreams.” Rosario was Che’s hometown, the place from which all the roads he traveled stemmed. The irony struck me that fate had now cast it as the town where our roads temporarily split.
A grin sneaks onto my face as I think about some far off time in the future. I see a framed picture sitting on the mantel of one of Eric’s grandchildren. It’s a picture of the two of us, with our hats and mustaches, prosciutto sandwiches in our back pockets, the world at our feet . . .
It is in these terrible, fleeting moments that I know this trip has changed us in some fundamental way. Like a meteorite entering a lake, it has disrupted the placid facade of our everyday lives and sends out tiny ripples that will resonate throughout us for years, decades.
My friendship and admiration for Eric have grown greatly throughout this trip. I have no doubt these days will remain as some of the greatest in our lives. We have been two seekers trying to get at the marrow of life, two young men doing what young men ought to.
The final chapter of our adventure is quickly approaching. The future is rushing toward us like a phantom freight train. I can hear its whistle in the distance and can feel its vibrations beneath my feet. I close my eyes and breath evenly. There is not a cyclone whirling behind my eyelids. There is an inner calm.